Monday, August 31, 2009

Check Mated in Sedalia

Night time criteriums are usually not my cup of tea. I don't really see that well at night. Some say it's my old age, I think it's my astigmatism. Either way, I don't really like night time races.

However, there is a race in Gateway Cup that is 100% at night so I think it's important to do a smaller race at night so I'll remember how the shadows work and all that. So I jump in the car with John Giles and Jason Knight. Next stop, Sedalia, MissourA!

We got there about 1/2 way through the Cat 3 race and I guess they thought it was a Demolition Derby . I think I counted 7 crashes and it seemed that nearly everyone hit the pavement. Bad for the riders, but the kids absolutely LOVED IT!!

By the time we started, I managed to get in enough preview laps to memorize where all the dangers on the course were. Which was good because the official said this as were all lined up.

"There are a number of hazards on the course to be aware of. We have marked these very well, except that now it's dark and you can't see the markings." Beautiful. Ready GO!

Instantly the attacks start flying. Tradewind Energy/ Trek Stores was firing on all cylinders with their 3 riders: Brian, Bill, and Nick were dictating the race as everyone else was chasing. On the L shaped course, it was only a matter of time....

I could never figure out how to be on the offensive side of the 8 ball. I needed to be rested and at the front of the field as the move got brought back in order to be on the counter attack. However the nature of the course would only allow for single of double file which means I could be rested or in the front but not both. Tradewind did a fantastic job of keeping the entire field in check and a good deal of energy was spent just trying to bring the race back to "even" only to be put in check again.

At about the 40 minute mark, everyone was stressed, getting tired and Brian jumps as Bill comes back. I looked to Nick and said, "that would be checkmate." Two gone, never to be seen again. Then it got interesting....

In one lap at the 45minute mark, there were 3 "incidents" that resulted in the P,1,2 race doing a poor imitation of the Cat 3 race. I guess that's when people started getting tired.

In the end I was on the tail end of the lead out for the field sprint and finished 8th. I'll take it as I didn't burn too many matches and was never really stressed. Next stop, the final TNW KC then off to the Gateway Cup!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Finding Form, Tuesday Night Worlds Epic!

Tis the end of the road season. For some, it's really just hitting the pre-season for CX. For others, the end is near. This is where all the hard work matters the most for the latter of the above. They are hitting higher powers and doing more times than they have all year. Hopefully, I'll be able to profile them as this blog progresses. Stay tuned for that!

There are a few Source Endurance clients who are targeting CX races and I think everyone is going to see a raising of the bar in the Midwest. Grab your bikes and let's get to Crossin' it Up!

That's right, no more easy races. None. In this area we've got a few guys who I think are capable of scoring some UCI points this year. Steve Tilford, Shadd Smith, Brian Jensen, Joe Schmalz, and Chris Wallace. There's always one up and coming phenom so watch for that! Also, let's not forget Dean Parker. I believe he's got a couple of Silver Medals from Worlds?

It was a fast and furious adventurous Tuesday night. Total NASCAR! And testing the laws of physics (two different masses STILL can not occupy the same space at the same time). Lots of attacks and lots of chasing. Mr. Jensen was there and made every break on the day showing that he's in fast form for Gateway Cup. Nick Coil was there as well rounding out the duo of Tradewind Energy riders. With the horsepower they had, they could basically do anything they wanted. And they did.

The two made all the moves and all the aggression made it hurt for everyone. I don't think anyone had an easy day. If you did, you probably skipped a couple of laps. I took some hard pulls or bridging efforts on the day and it was obvious that a field sprint was in order. Time to line up the lead-out train!

Coming around 3 on the penultimate lap, Brian jumped, HARD, with Nick on his wheel followed by John Giles and a couple others. I thought it was too early, but as fast as Brian had been going all night, I thought, "Oh sh*t! Brian is leading Nick out and he's doing it early and I'm completely out of position!!!" I didn't see it going down like that at all. I thought for sure Nick would light the afterburners for Brian. Ugh. But then Nick got gapped on the strong acceleration, Brian looked back and kept going and snap went the elastic.... Brian had 3 seconds, three solid seconds with one lap to go and he's still opening time..... So I roll to the front and drop a brick on the accelerator, lead out time.

Corner 4. 3.25s Full gas.
Start/ Finish line. 3s. Full gas, stand and sprint.
Turn 1. Brian is just now at full flight and that's not slow. He's 100% capable of opening the gap again and he's not going to sit up. I'm at full gas, but not planning on making the finish line, 2.75s.
Turn 2. I'm burned up, Jason Knight takes over the lead out with a hard charging field behind.
Turn 3. Jason had buried the tachometer all the way in the red, which is why the field got within striking distance. 2.0s
Turn 4. Josh Crow jumps and drags eventual winner David Hejduk (sp?) and Mark Cole (2nd place) to the line. Brian still finishes third.

Everyone is totally gassed but what a fun finish! Hats off to David for winning a TNW KC. I don't know if he's won any this year, but he deserved every bit of that one. And to Mark, for being patient and waiting for the train to roll out. Thanks to Brian and Nick for absolutely throttling everyone the entire time at this edition of TNW KC.

I wonder what sort of epic adventure the final TNW KC will be? Only one way to find out......

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Source Endurance 2009 CX Promo!

It's here! Contact the number at the bottom or my contact info below.
Adam Mills

Friday, August 21, 2009

Progression 2009: A Snapshot!

As I'm writing this Joseph Schmalz is preparing a foray into the 2009 CX season. The goals are four-fold. Get a single UCI point in the US, Qualify for an invite to race CX in Europe, US CX Natz in Bend, and CX Worlds. All that on the immediate heels of a long 2009 road campaign. Wow! That's quite a bit to ask of one's self especially since as the CX season progresses, you're looking at "going fast" (read, "peaking") for only 11 of the 20 weeks. Excuse while I supress laughter......

Okay, I'm back. To everyone who wants to "go fast" for 11 of the 20 weeks of CX. You CAN NOT DO IT. No exceptions. The human body will not perform at its absolute best for that many weeks. Basically, you'll get two peaks of two weeks assuming it's done right. AND they should be separated by 8 weeks at the least if you want it to be true peaks. Otherwise you're just riding at 90% for 90% of the time. The only problem is that all of Joe's goals are not going to be met by riding at 90%. Perhaps the first two may be, but not the last two.

With this in mind, let's take a snapshot look at Joe's 2009 road season. Okay, here we go!

First. His KiloJoules per week expenditure with his major events highlighted....
The first thing you notice is that there are some very high peaks in KiloJoules (KJ)/week expenditure and as the season progresses, the peaks in KJ/week aren't as high. That's because as the season progresses, Joe transitioned between one day "Classics" and stage racing to criteriums, to consecutive weeks of criteriums. Joe and I were able to lay this out in February so that we knew how to approach the season. In short, we accounted for the decrease in KJ expenditure with the massive increase in intensity. You can see that his overall KJ/ week drops. However, Joe was racing a substantial amount, which translates to extremely high intensity and thus unable to handle additional volume (physiologically, volume is defined in work (KJ) not time in the saddle). Late in the season, it seems like every KJ that is burned is burned in a hard race, with recovery rides being super slow and easy.

Joe's season begins with Hillsboro RR/ Tillis Park as his first targeted race. It's important to note that he did some racing before this, and he got some great results. However, I don't have data from much of this and I wanted to keep the data relevent. Anyways, the Hillsboro/ Tillis goal was to see how he compared to others in order to see what we needed to address for his first upcoming peak: Joe Martin Stage race. The result 6th place in GC with a 4th in the ITT.
You can see here where Joe's Peak Powers are all set within the April/ May line (dotted) compared to March (solid). New season max's across the board.

The goal for the second phase of the season in, June/ July, was to get as much high-end racing as possible. The qualifier to racing this much: he has to be competitive and must be effective. Aka: no racing to "hang on." We worked on having him repeat the supra-maximal efforts and supra-threshold training. However, you can see that new peak powers set here are interspersed throughout the graph. April/ May (dotted) vs. June/ July (solid).

Finally, the end of the season where Joe's 2009 road season goals lie. U-23 Natz, and US Criterium Natz in Downer's Grove (if there's anything left). The results weren't the best and the conditions as well as the competition were brutal! But he's had impressive numbers since his final peak for U-23 Natz. Here you'll see that August (dotted) shows new peak powers at the extreme high-end powers when compared to June/ July (solid). That's exactly what we focused on for the late season and those are the powers that decide criteriums.

Also, the majority of his 2009 Peak powers have come in the last 28 days, really since the U-23 Natz in Oregon. Last 28 days (solid) vs. 2009 (dotted). Most of the dotted you can see, what little of it there is, was during the Joe Martin Stage Race.

So now what? Well, as you can see (way at the top) this is his third and most "restful," and much deserved, active recovery portion of his program. From here, he'll be building for CX and back to those four goals. We're going to start by using Gateway Cup as part of his first training block of cross season in order to springboard him toward a smaller peak in Mid-Late October in the hopes he can grab a single UCI CX point. Once that phase is over, we'll work towards having him riding at higher intensities for longer durations which translates to him riding faster than anyone has ever seen young Schmalz go on a Cross bike. Peaking for Nationals, or Worlds depending on the selection/ invitation process.

To help Joe get to Europe and offset his expenses, Click HERE!

Also, a debriefing of the TNW KC last weekend coming up. Some fantastic racing!

Downer at Downer's

I do think Downer's Grove is truly a pure criterium course. It's got tight corners, wide corners, fast corners, technical corners, uphill, downhill. Basically, you must be a complete rider with a full repertoire of bike driving skills to be competitive in this race. I'll be back!


Due to my own laziness and inattentiveness, I was caught out on Saturday as far ahead of me 10 guys decided to sit up and quit. I don't blame them as a Stars and Bars jersey was on the line the next day. It just bums me out that I was behind the quitters and didn't want to be one.

Sunday: Well, I was too far back, again, when the mini-hurricane hit. Then, BAM! A huge tree branch broke off in the 70mph winds and landed about 5 feet from me. I have to admit, it's tough to maintain focus in the rain when you nearly are killed by a falling tree! DNF. Basically, the whole weekend can be summed up by these two pictures:

Safety and....

Family Fail. Note the blue print....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Was it too much Shadd?

Shadd Smith everyone. Shadd Smith.

Shadd and I have been working together for nearly all of 2009. The goals: Utilize his limited training time in a way that will let him compete to win at the Elite level in what amounts to about one top level event per month. Easy right? Well....

Shadd is a very interesting athlete to work with. He does his part (keeps in touch with me, sends me his files and comments, advises me in advance of travel, blah, blah, blah) and I do my part (Analyze his files and make adjustments to keep him on track). Of course there's always a "twist"with every athlete. You'll see as I explain the graph below shortly but for now let's just put it like this... Shadd may not have absolute Superman power output, but the number of times he can repeat the powers is nearly superhuman. I'm not just talking on any given day either. I'm also referring to his ability to come out on the second, third, and fourth day in a row, for multiple weeks at a time and continue to hit the powers and durations. It is incredible! The first couple of training cycles we did were extended for 13 and 9 days respectively just to make sure he got the proper training stimulus!

About 7 weeks ago, after the Tour of Winghaven, Shadd and I had a talk where he expressed that he just didn't have the top end where he wanted it.

I said, "Shadd, you're doing 1440W peak power in the sprints. I'm not sure it's possible to do more without hitting some plyometrics, weights, or something out of the ordinary."

He put it bluntly, "I'm just not fast enough where I want it."

Okay, I'll figure it out. So I spoke with some co-workers at Source Endurance. They tossed out some ideas, I tossed out some ideas, we threw some of them out, accepted a couple others and BAM! Training schedule.

The new goal wasn't to make Shadd absolute powers higher, but to extend the time he could spend at 1000+ W. The 1k W mark is definitely notable. Hardly any Catagory 4-5 riders can reach those numbers and only a few Catagory 3s are capable of hitting that mark. Even at the P,1,2 level, 1k W is hard to duplicate more than a handful of times. So Shadd trained by..... well now, that would be giving away trade secrets if I told wouldn't it? Let me tell you, it's NOT by just doing a dozen sprints for 30 seconds but we did have to improve his neuromuscular strength.

Anyway, coming out of the last training cycle, I looked at Shadd's numbers in his recent efforts (TNW KC, ToKC, and some motivated training sessions) and sure enough, the powers got one hell of a bump. 7.7% improvement to be exact (at the 1k W mark, I allowed for +/- 20W because of the 2% error in the SRM). That is an incredible number! Shadd's power curve now doesn't dip below 1k W until 26 long seconds of sprinting; an improvement on the 23s he was posting prior to July 16 this year.

What are the implications? Assuming 35 mph, it means Shadd can sprint at 1k W for 1334ft or 400m! That means he can jump from a loooong way out and still win primes, or races. An experienced and solid racer whom I admire and respect fell victim to this long range sprint on Tuesday night by jumping Shadd before the final corner only to be passed later down road.

I've posted Shadd's Mean Maximal Power curve so you can see the change for yourself. The dotted line represents the curve prior to July 16 while the solid line is after that.

Thanks for reading and look for Mercy Cycling and Tradewind/ Trek Stores riders in the results at the US Criterium Championships in Downer's Grove this weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's All About Performance

It's always wonderful when you get that little reminder not to take yourself too seriously. Thanks to my Cousin Christian for finding this on Youtube.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Up and Running- Tour of Kansas City

I'm still trying to get this website up and running. It'll very similar to the old one, just a new name and fewer links as I'm eliminating all the ones that aren't up to date.

Doing the Right Thing at the Tour of Kansas City.
These races have always been some of my favorites ever. As long as I can remember, the ToKC has always been contested by the "hard men" of the peloton. What appears to be a straight forward criterium always ends up being a death march of a race. Hot, windy and downright brutal are the norm. This year, nothing new. Cue the heat!

We had a few scattered days of hot and oppressive heat, nothing like Austin, TX which has basically had 100+ F degree days solid since mid June, and I must admit I like riding around in 70-80 degrees. That is, until this last week when the rains cleared out, the wind shifted from the south and BAM! It's like riding a bike into a hair dryer!

I'm going to end up over- simplifying the race as many others will too, but this weekend appeared to be a Mercy Cycling vs. Tradewind Energy/ Trek Stores duel. However, I need to say that shouldn't imply that others sat idly by and watched as the race played out. NO WAY! Riders like Josh Carter, Phil Mann were present and accounted for. These two would greatly influence the outcomes of each day along with a few others. Definitely there were opportunities for everyone, if they were able to see the chance and make good on the moment.

Our plan: Joe Schmalz marks Brian Jensen and only Brian Jensen. Everyone else, race to win and we'll read and react and see what happens.....

I could write for lines and lines about the race, but rather than rehash, I'll fill in the gaps from the accounts of Steve Tilford.

Day1: Joe and I found ourselves in a 13 man break. I told Joe not to pull and to only watch Brian. The reason: Brian hasn't missed a break, ever really. Even if his team has a solid presence in the move, Brian will always find a way to get across. Sometimes, he'll take guys with him and shed them as "collateral damage" as the break develops. But either way, he never misses it.

After lapping the field, Joe, Brian, and Austin Allison get away for more break away fun. Meanwhile, other moves have developed in front of the field but behind the lead break. Mercy has guys in the moves, which is good for Joe as he utilizes Alex for some help in the finale. However, I'm still in the field with 2 other lappers (6 total) and have no help at all in the sprint. D'oh! Joe gets nipped by Brian by about the length of a deep dish rim. I place 6th. I would have liked to have placed up a couple more spots, but it was my best result in the ToKC. I'll take it.

Day 2, More of the same: Rewind and repeat the strategy of Saturday. This time with more fireworks, more 25 mph wind and 112F heat index. Basically, Tradewind/ Trek Stores set it as their goal to have Brian 5 peat (I think) the ToKC title and we were wanting 2 things: 1. Win the race and 2. Try and move Joe ahead of Brian, a feat much easier in theory and practice. We ONLY had to have Joe finish two places in front of Brian. Easy right? Riiiiiight.....

Break of 14 gets away from the field of 60+ and we had 3. Not bad, but not enough to throttle ourselves. We have myself, Alex Welch, and Joe. We lap the field with about 14 laps to go then things get interesting. Tradewind has 4 in the move and Steve in the field, making 5 of their six consolidated. Not the best thing for Mercy and Joe for either one of the goals.

So we audible the play and start to shake things up a bit to disrupt the ability for Tradewind to organize a leadout. In essence, we needed to blow the field and break up and rely on our ability to properly position ourselves. This required a good deal of trust in the team and in Joe because splintering a group is usually where Brian will hit the throttle and ride away. However, today was a different story.

A small group with Alex rolls, followed by Brian and Joe. They are joined by Josh Carter (who absolutely was NOT going to miss the move two days in a row) and Phil Mann, both talented riders and maybe one or two others. I couldn't tell because in my attempt to bridge, I blew myself in spectacular fashion and was trying desperately to find some sort of wheel as everyone rolled by... Enter Chris "Little Boy" Wallace. Chris completely bailed me out today by waiting for me to recover enough to ride faster than "backwards." Then pulled 2.5 grueling laps in the heat and wind, clawing himself and me back to the main field where the sprint for 9th was happening. Wow. I flew up the outside line and onto Shadd Smith's wheel which is where I finished. Ouch.

Meanwhile, Alex rolls off the break to win! Victory for Mercy. Joe misses beating Brian by the width of a tire. But without another rider between them Brian had the overall locked up.

I hope that everyone watching the race, from the inside looking out or the outside looking in enjoyed the racing. It's always interesting when you race your friends and former teammates. Myself and Joe raced on the Tradewind/ Trek Stores team last year so we know the strengths and weaknesses of each rider. Sometimes that's good, other times it's not because they know yours as well. The guys are strong and when they're co-ordinated, very difficult to beat. Props to their victory in the overall, it was a well deserved team victory.

The best, and worst part is that when racing against friends there tends to be moments when it gets, "dicey." While we're all competitors, that only lasts for the 70+3 of the race, then it's back to real life where you enjoy an ice cold beer in the parking lot and trade war stories. That's what the racing and culture is about in some respects. Comradary.

Coming up I'm going to look at some of the ToKC power files from the riders who made the races. Stay tuned!